Online shopping has become the norm these days, with more and more individuals preferring the same over regular in-store shopping. This has given rise to not just new eCommerce stores, but has also caused existing businesses to start expanding online. So, whether you have an excellent idea to start an eCommerce store, or taking your existing business online, one of the very first decisions you will have to make is choose between hosted and self-hosted platforms.
These are basically the two broad classifications that all eCommerce platforms fall into, and each comes with pros and cons of its own. Therefore, it is important that you understand the two options in order to choose the one that you know will best suit your business.
Hosted eCommerce Stores
Hosted eCommerce platforms are basically all-inclusive solutions, which not only include hosting, but also shopping carts and comprehensive technical support. With these platforms, you don’t have to be concerned about having a server of your own to host your website, because it will be hosted by your solution provider, and you will not have access to that server. Setting up, maintenance, and all other aspects also will be taken care of by the provider, and you can use their website to make any changes you want to make on your online store. Also, with this setup, all your store related data will be stored and maintained on the cloud.
Commonly known as Software as a Service (SaaS) products, hosted eCommerce solutions are perfect for those businesses that do not have sufficient technical help. When it comes to their pricing model, in most cases, the amount will be determined based on the size of your business or online store.
Benefits of Hosted eCommerce Stores
One of the huge benefits of hosted eCommerce platforms is that you get to pay only for what you need. As a result, you wouldn’t be spending a dime on a feature or aspect that you will not be using, thereby allowing you to keep your costs down. And, as your business grows, you can of course add more features and pay accordingly.
With these solutions, you will be able to reach out to experts whenever you need help. Most hosted eCommerce solution providers offer 24*7 support, with an expert team held in place to help resolve your issues at the earliest.
These solutions are also very easy to use, with highly user-friendly layouts, and everything you need laid out transparently.
Limitations of Hosted eCommerce Stores
Since your online store is dependent on your solution provider, its success largely depends on theirs, which means, if they are going down, you are too.
Hosted platforms can get more expensive as your business grows and you needing more efficient features.
Also, the level of flexibility and customization is limited, because everything is setup already and there is only so much you can modify.
Self-Hosted eCommerce Stores
As the name suggests, your eCommerce store can be called self-hosted if you take up the responsibility of hosting the same, which means you will have to work towards setting up a cloud-based server, where all your files and data will be stored and maintained. When it comes to self-hosting an eCommerce store, perhaps the major cost you will incur will be with setting up the server. Also, in this case, you will be the one resolving any issue, technical or otherwise, that might arise, or pay for external help. It is crucial to understand that self-hosting an eCommerce platform is ideal only for the technically sound.
Some of the well-known examples of self-hosted eCommerce platforms are: Magento and WooCommerce.
Benefits of Self-Hosted eCommerce Stores
In this case, since you will be handling the service and every other aspect of hosting your site, you have full ownership and complete control on what your online store should look like.
When your eCommerce platform is self-hosted, you can customize it to your liking without any restrictions. You can add new features whenever you need; all you need to do is just download different extensions and plug-ins.
Limitations of Self-Hosted eCommerce Stores
Getting started with building your online store is one of the major limitations of self-hosted solutions, because of the myriad of processes involved.
As mentioned earlier, with this method, you wouldn’t have access to expert help should anything go wrong.
Which One Should You Choose?
The answer to this question depends on what you are looking for in your eCommerce platform. If you don’t have the time or resources to spend on building your own online store, and would like to put in minimal effort in the whole process, then hosted eCommerce platforms should be your choice.
On the other hand, if you have strong technical knowledge or a team of tech experts ready to help you when in need, and would like to have a close look at everything that’s going on with your store, then self-hosted it is.